Vasco da Gama: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Vasco da Gama.

  • Vasco da Gama is one of the most famous of the Portuguese explorers from the Age of Discovery, which occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • He lived from about 1460 to 1524 and was the first European to reach India directly by sea. His discovery meant that the Portuguese could colonize parts of Asia.
  • Much of Vasco da Gama’s early life was spent on fishing boats. He also studied navigation and astronomy, and he was friends with Ponce de Leon, who discovered Florida.
  • His father was also a well known explorer. He would have made the sea voyage to India that made Vasco da Gama famous, but he died before he could complete the journey.
  • The land on the East African coast under Muslim rule was very important for Portuguese expansion plans. At one point, Vasco da Gama impersonated a Muslim to secure a meeting with a local sultan.

Vasco da Gama

  • Da Gama stayed in India for several months, leaving when he was asked to pay taxes and leave his goods behind. In retaliation, he took some hostages.
  • In 1502, da Gama made his second voyage to India. On this voyage, he came upon a ship carrying Muslim pilgrims. He looted the ship and then cruelly killed all of the passengers in cold-blood.
  • His third voyage was in 1524, when he set sail to India with two of his sons. However, he died while on the voyage, possibly from pneumonia although some say it was from exhaustion and overworking.
  • A city in India is named after Vasco da Gama, as well as three Brazilian football teams, several ships, a crater on the moon and several places in Lisbon, Portugal.


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